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Southern Cone

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Southern Cone
  Countries always included in all definitions
  Areas sometimes included
Area5,712,034 km2 (2,205,429 sq mi)
Population135,707,204 (July 2010 est.)
Density27.45/km2 (71.1/sq mi)[1]
LanguagesSpanish, Portuguese, Italian, English, German, Aymara, Guaraní, Mapudungun, and Quechuan
DemonymSouth American
Largest cities

The Southern Cone (Spanish: Cono Sur, Portuguese: Cone Sul) is a geographical and cultural subregion composed of the southernmost areas of South America, mostly south of the Tropic of Capricorn. Traditionally, it covers Argentina, Chile, and Uruguay, bounded on the west by the Pacific Ocean and on the east by the Atlantic Ocean. In terms of social, economic and political geography, the Southern Cone comprises Argentina, Chile, and Uruguay, and sometimes includes Brazil's four southernmost states (Paraná, Rio Grande do Sul, Santa Catarina, and São Paulo). In its broadest definition, taking into account common history and geography, it also includes Paraguay, another Spanish-speaking[note 4] country.[2]

The Southern Cone is the subregion in Latin America with the highest Human Development Index, and it has historically had a high standard of living; it's located at latitudes in the southern hemisphere that would correspond in the northern hemisphere to the United States, Canadian provinces, European countries (except the Nordic countries), northern China, the Korean peninsula and Japan.[2][3]

Geography and extent

Köppen Climate Zone Classification map of Uruguay, Argentina, Chile and Falkland Islands

The climates are mostly temperate, but include humid subtropical, Mediterranean, highland tropical, maritime temperate, sub-Antarctic temperate, highland cold, desert and semi-arid temperate regions. Except for the northern regions of Argentina (thermal equator in January), the whole country of Paraguay, the Argentina-Brazil border and the interior of the Atacama Desert, the region rarely suffers from heat. In addition to that, the winter presents mostly cool temperatures. Strong and constant wind and high humidity are what brings low temperatures in the winter. The Atacama is the driest place on Earth.

One of the most peculiar plants of the region is the Araucaria tree, which can be found in Brazil, Chile and Argentina. The only native group of conifers found in the southern hemisphere had its origin in the Southern Cone. Araucaria angustifolia, once widespread in Southern Brazil, is now a critically endangered species, protected by law. The prairies region of central Argentina, Uruguay and southern Brazil is known as the Pampas.

Central Chile has Mediterranean vegetation and a Mediterranean climate, grading southward into an oceanic climate. The Atacama, Patagonian and Monte deserts form a diagonal of arid lands separating the woodlands, croplands and pastures of La Plata basin from Central and Southern Chile. Apart from the desert diagonal, the north–south running Andes form a major divide in the Southern Cone and constitute, for most of its part in the southern cone, the Argentina–Chile border. In the east the river systems of the La Plata basin form natural barriers and sea lanes between Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay.



Köppen climate classification of South Brazil and São Paulo.

Southern Brazil has a temperate climate with annual average temperatures varying between 12 °C (53.6 °F) and 22 °C (71.6 °F).[citation needed] During the months of June, July and August, high-altitude areas in the South Region can receive snowfall. The state of São Paulo has seven distinct climatic types. The mountainous areas of the state have a subtropical climate (Cfa). In areas of high altitude, the average temperature is below 18 °C (64 °F). Oceanic (Cfb and Cwb) on the coast, the climate is of a super-humid tropical type (Af), without a dry season. The tropical climate of altitude (Cwa), predominant in the state territory, specifically in the center, is characterized by a temperature above 22 °C (72 °F) in the hottest month of the year. The occurrence of snow is rare, but has been recorded in Campos do Jordão and there are also reports that the phenomenon has occurred in several parts of the south.[citation needed]

Average temperatures for some urban areas of the Southern Cone
Location January April July October
Buenos Aires[4] 30.1 °C (86.2 °F)
20.1 °C (68.2 °F)
22.9 °C (73.2 °F)
13.8 °C (56.8 °F)
15.4 °C (59.7 °F)
7.4 °C (45.3 °F)
22.6 °C (72.7 °F)
13.3 °C (55.9 °F)
Santiago de Chile[5] 30.1 °C (86.2 °F)
13.4 °C (56.1 °F)
22.3 °C (72.1 °F)
6.5 °C (43.7 °F)
14.3 °C (57.7 °F)
1.6 °C (34.9 °F)
22.8 °C (73.0 °F)
8.4 °C (47.1 °F)
Montevideo 28.1 °C (82.6 °F)
18.0 °C (64.4 °F)
21.7 °C (71.1 °F)
12.9 °C (55.2 °F)
14.6 °C (58.3 °F)
6.9 °C (44.4 °F)
20.3 °C (68.5 °F)
11.5 °C (52.7 °F)
Córdoba 31.1 °C (88.0 °F)
18.1 °C (64.6 °F)
24.9 °C (76.8 °F)
12.3 °C (54.1 °F)
18.5 °C (65.3 °F)
5.5 °C (41.9 °F)
26.1 °C (79.0 °F)
12.6 °C (54.7 °F)
Valparaiso 21.4 °C (70.5 °F)
13.5 °C (56.3 °F)
18.3 °C (64.9 °F)
11.4 °C (52.5 °F)
14.3 °C (57.7 °F)
9.2 °C (48.6 °F)
17.0 °C (62.6 °F)
10.5 °C (50.9 °F)
Concepción 22.8 °C (73.0 °F)
10.9 °C (51.6 °F)
18.3 °C (64.9 °F)
8.1 °C (46.6 °F)
13.2 °C (55.8 °F)
5.8 °C (42.4 °F)
17.2 °C (63.0 °F)
7.4 °C (45.3 °F)
Mar del Plata 26.3 °C (79.3 °F)
14.3 °C (57.7 °F)
20.5 °C (68.9 °F)
9.1 °C (48.4 °F)
13.1 °C (55.6 °F)
3.8 °C (38.8 °F)
18.5 °C (65.3 °F)
7.6 °C (45.7 °F)
Neuquén 32.0 °C (89.6 °F)
16.2 °C (61.2 °F)
22.0 °C (71.6 °F)
7.0 °C (44.6 °F)
12.2 °C (54.0 °F)
0.0 °C (32.0 °F)
23.4 °C (74.1 °F)
8.2 °C (46.8 °F)
Iquique 25.3 °C (77.5 °F)
19.2 °C (66.6 °F)
22.7 °C (72.9 °F)
16.9 °C (62.4 °F)
18.0 °C (64.4 °F)
14.0 °C (57.2 °F)
20.1 °C (68.2 °F)
15.4 °C (59.7 °F)
Bariloche 21.4 °C (70.5 °F)
6.5 °C (43.7 °F)
14.8 °C (58.6 °F)
1.8 °C (35.2 °F)
6.4 °C (43.5 °F)
−1.3 °C (29.7 °F)
13.9 °C (57.0 °F)
1.3 °C (34.3 °F)
Ushuaia 13.9 °C (57.0 °F)
5.4 °C (41.7 °F)
9.6 °C (49.3 °F)
2.3 °C (36.1 °F)
4.2 °C (39.6 °F)
−1.7 °C (28.9 °F)
10.5 °C (50.9 °F)
2.3 °C (36.1 °F)
Porto Alegre 30.2 °C (86.4 °F)
20.5 °C (68.9 °F)
25.2 °C (77.4 °F)
16.3 °C (61.3 °F)
19.4 °C (66.9 °F)
10.7 °C (51.3 °F)
24.4 °C (75.9 °F)
15.0 °C (59.0 °F)
Planisphere of moderate latitudes in which the equivalent location of most of the Southern Cone can be observed as if it was in the Northern Hemisphere. The highest latitudes of the Southern Cone overlap among others with Southeast Alaska in North America, Ireland, England, the Netherlands, Northern Germany, Poland and Belarus in Europe, and the Altai Mountains and Lake Baikal, Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands in Asia.


Mate, as shown in the picture, is a typical beverage from the Southern Cone.

Besides sharing languages and colonial heritage, the residents of the states of the Southern Cone are avid players and fans of football, with top-notch teams competing in the sport. Argentina has won the FIFA World Cup three times, while Uruguay has won the cup twice; they are the only national teams along with Brazil outside Europe to have won the cup. Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, and Brazil have all hosted the World Cup. Additionally, national teams from the region have won several Olympic medals in football. Also, football clubs from the Southern Cone countries have won large numbers of club competitions in South-American competitions, Pan-American competitions, and world-FIFA Club World Cup-level competitions.

The asado barbecue is a culinary tradition typical of the Southern Cone. The asado developed from the horsemen and cattle culture of the region, more specifically from the gauchos of Argentina, Uruguay and Southern Brazil (and Southern Chile) and the huasos of Central Chile. In the Southern Cone, horsemen are considered icons of national identity; they are featured in the epic poem Martín Fierro. Mate is popular throughout the Southern Cone.

In this area, there was extensive European immigration during the 19th- and 20th-centuries, who, with their descendants, have strongly influenced the culture, social life and politics of these countries. Immigration reshaped the modern-day societies of Argentina, Chile, and Uruguay, countries where the influx of newcomers was massive.

In a social survey, residents rated their countries as 'good places for gay or lesbian people to live;' the following percentages said 'yes' in Uruguay (71%), Argentina (68%), Brazil (68%), and Chile (52%). By contrast, fewer people in the following countries agreed: Bolivia (31%) and Peru (35%).[6]



The overwhelming majority, including those of recent immigrant background, speak Spanish (in Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay) or Portuguese in the case of Southern Brazil. The Spanish-speaking countries of the Southern Cone are divided into two main dialects:

  • Castellano Rioplatense (River Plate Spanish), spoken in Argentina and Uruguay, where the accent and daily language is heavily influenced by 19th-20th century Italian immigrants, has a particular intonation famously recognized by Spanish speakers from around the world. It is sometimes unofficially referred to as "Castellano Argentino/Argentine Spanish" due to the majority of the speakers (by population) being Argentines. Preliminary research has shown that Rioplatense Spanish has intonation patterns that resemble those of Italian dialects in the Naples region, differing markedly from those of other forms of Spanish.[7] Buenos Aires, Rosario, and Montevideo had a massive influx of Italian immigrant settlers from the mid-19th until mid-20th centuries. Researchers note that the development of this dialect is a relatively recent phenomenon, developing at the beginning of the 20th century with the main wave of Italian immigration.[7]
  • Castellano Chileno (Chilean Spanish)

These dialects share common traits, such as a number of Lunfardo and Quechua words.

Minor languages and dialects include Cordobés, Cuyo, and Portuñol, a hybrid between Rioplatense and Brazilian Portuguese that is spoken in Uruguay on the border with Brazil.

Native American languages


Some Native American groups, especially in rural areas, continue to speak autochthonous languages, including Mapudungun (also known as Mapuche), Quechua, Aymara, and Guarani. The first is primarily spoken in Araucanía and adjacent areas of Patagonia, in southern Argentina and Chile. Guarani is the official language of Paraguay, the most widely spoken language in that country, and in 2010, the city of Tacuru, in the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso do Sul, adopted Guarani as the official language, besides Portuguese. It is also a co-official language in the northeastern Argentine provinces of Corrientes and Misiones.[8]

Non-Iberian immigrant languages


English is spoken in the Falkland Islands, a British Overseas Territory (disputed by Argentina), and by descendants of British settlers in Argentina and Chile. Welsh is spoken by descendants of immigrants in the Patagonia region of Argentina.

Italian (mostly its Northern dialects, such as Venetian), is spoken in rural communities across Argentina, Southern Brazil, and São Paulo where immigrants had settled. German, in various dialects, is mostly spoken in Southern Chile and Southern Brazil. As well as in the Chaco (Paraguay) by Mennonites.[4] It is the second most spoken mother tongue in Brazil.[9][10][11] Polish, Dutch and Ukrainian are also spoken in Southern Brazil. Dutch is spoken in Chile as well, and Ukrainian is used in Argentina as well. Croatian and other Slavic languages are also spoken in the southernmost areas of Chilean Patagonia, reflecting patterns of immigration and settlement.

Yiddish can be heard mainly in Buenos Aires, Argentina and São Paulo, Brazil.

In Brazil, Japanese is spoken by immigrant communities in the states of São Paulo and Paraná.

Selected words in the dialects of Southern Cone countries


Below there are selected words to show the similarities in vocabulary in the dialects of the countries of the Southern Cone.

Argentina Brazil Chile Paraguay Uruguay
apricot damasco damasco damasco damasco damasco
cashew castaña de cajú castanha de caju castaña de cajú castaña de cajú castaña de cajú
cell phone celular celular celular celular celular
computer computadora computador computador computadora computadora
parking lot estacionamiento estacionamento estacionamiento estacionamiento estacionamiento

Below there are selected words to show vocabulary in the dialects of the countries of the Southern Cone and other Spanish-speaking countries in South America and the dialect of Portuguese spoken in Brazil.

Argentina Bolivia Brazil Chile Colombia Ecuador Paraguay Peru Uruguay Venezuela
apartment departamento departamento apartamento departamento apartamento departamento departamento departamento apartamento apartamento
artichoke alcaucil alcachofa alcachofra alcachofa alcachofa alcachofa alcachofa alcachofa alcaucil alcachofa
avocado palta palta abacate palta aguacate aguacate aguacate palta palta aguacate
banana banana plátano banana plátano banano banano banana plátano banana cambur
bean poroto frijol feijão poroto fríjol frijol poroto frijol poroto caraota
bell pepper morrón pimiento pimentão pimentón pimentón pimiento locote pimiento morrón pimientón
butter manteca mantequilla manteiga mantequilla mantequilla mantequilla manteca mantequilla manteca mantequilla
car auto auto carro auto carro auto auto auto auto carro
corn on
the cob
choclo choclo espiga de
choclo mazorca choclo choclo choclo choclo jojoto
drinking straw pajita bombilla canudo pajita pitillo sorbete pajita sorbete pajita pitillo
earring aro arete brinco aro arete arete aro arete caravana zarcillo
grapefruit pomelo pomelo toranja pomelo toronja toronja pomelo toronja pomelo toronja
green bean chaucha vainita vagem poroto verde habichuela vainita chaucha vainita chaucha vainita
jacket campera chamarra jaqueta chaqueta chaqueta chompa campera casaca campera chaqueta
kitchen stove cocina cocina fogão cocina estufa cocina cocina cocina cocina estufa
papaya papaya papaya mamão papaya papaya papaya mamón papaya papaya lechosa
pea arveja arveja ervilha arveja arveja arveja arveja arevja arveja guisante
peanut maní maní amendoim maní maní maní maní maní maní maní
popcorn pochoclo pipocas pipoca cabritas crispetas/
maíz pira
pororó pororó canguil pop/pororó cotufas
sneakers zapatillas tenis tênis zapatillas tenis zapatillas championes zapatillas championes gomas
socks medias medias meias calcetines medias medias medias medias medias medias
sweet potato batata camote batata doce camote batata camote batata camote boniato batata
swimming pool pileta piscina piscina piscina piscina piscina pileta piscina piscina piscina
t-shirt remera polera camiseta polera camiseta camiseta remera polo remera franela
lavarropas lavadora máquina de
lavar roupa
lavadora lavadora lavadora lavarropas lavadora lavarropas lavadora


A history of Catholicism has left landmarks like the Churches of Chiloé (pictured) in the Southern Cone

Like the rest of Latin America, most residents of the Southern Cone are members of the Catholic Church,[12] with a minority of Protestants, including a significant Lutheran population in South Brazil. Other religions also present in the southern cone include Islam, Anglicanism, Eastern Orthodoxy, Buddhism, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Daoism. Jewish communities have thrived in cities of Argentina and Uruguay.

While the Southern Cone has been conservative in some aspects of religion, it has had a tradition of social reform and liberation theology has been followed by many in the Catholic Church. Uruguay, where agnosticism and atheism is common, has a policy of strong separation of church and state; it is one of the most secular countries in the Americas.[13] Uruguay, Chile and Argentina, in that order, have the least religious residents in South America, according to their responses about the significance of religion in their lives. According to the Pew Research Center, 28% of Uruguayans, 43% of Argentines, and 41% of Chileans think of religion 'very important in their lives,' contrasting with the higher values given by the residents of countries such as Peru (72%), Colombia (77%) and Ecuador (76%).[14]

The Southern Cone produced the first pope from the Western Hemisphere, Pope Francis, elected in 2013, born in Buenos Aires, Argentina.[15]

Religion in the Southern Cone
Area Catholic (%) Protestant (%) Irreligious (%) Others
Unspecified (%) Source
Argentina Argentina 62.9 15.3 18.9 2.6 0.3 [16]
Chile Chile 42.0 14.0 37.0 6.0 0.0 [17]
Paraná (state) Paraná, Brazil 69.6 22.2 4.6 3.6 0.0 [18][19]
Rio Grande do Sul Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil 68.8 18.3 5.3 5.2 0.0 [18][19]
Santa Catarina (state) Santa Catarina, Brazil 73.1 20.4 3.2 3.3 0.0 [18][19]
São Paulo (state) São Paulo, Brazil 60.1 24.1 8.1 7.7 0.0 [18][19]
Uruguay Uruguay 42.0 15.0 37.0 6.0 0.0 [14]


Country Area
Population density
(per km2)
HDI (2019)[21] Capital
Argentina Argentina 2,780,092 (3,761,274) 45,195,774 16.26 (12.02) 0,845
(very high)
Buenos Aires
Chile Chile 756,102 (2,006,360) 19,116,201 25.28 (9.53) 0.851
(very high)
Uruguay Uruguay 176,215 3,473,730 19.71 0.817
(very high)
Total 3,712,409 (5,943,849) 67,785,705 18.26 (11.40) 0,845
(very high)

Inclusion of other regions




Brazil, being a country of continental dimensions, presents great internal regional differences. While its 4 southernmost states (Paraná, Rio Grande do Sul, Santa Catarina and São Paulo) share characteristics with Argentina, and Uruguay (high standard of living, subtropical and temperate climate, high levels of industrialization and strong European ethnic component due to immigration), the other states are more similar to the other South American countries in these issues.

In relation to latitudes the 4 southernmost Brazilian states are located in latitudes in the southern hemisphere that would correspond in the northern hemisphere to northern Mexico, the American state of Florida and the coastal regions of the other southern states of the United States, North Africa, the Arabian peninsula, southern Iran, northern India and the southern China.

For these reasons, Brazil is included in some meanings when speaking in Southern Cone, but excluded in others.

When the definition is not limited to entire countries, the states of the South Region and the state of São Paulo are generally included.

State Area
Population density
(per km2)
HDI (2017)[21] Capital
Paraná (state) Paraná 199,314 11.434.000 59.80 0.796
Rio Grande do Sul Rio Grande do Sul 291,748 11.378.000 39.10 0.792
Porto Alegre
Santa Catarina (state) Santa Catarina 95,346 7.165.000 71.18 0.808
(very high)
São Paulo (state) São Paulo 248,222 45,920,000 95.83 0.826
(very high)
São Paulo
Total 834,630 75.897.000 90.35 0.806
(very high)



Due to the geographical proximity, common history, geography and political cycles, Paraguay is usually included in what is meant by Southern Cone. However, it contrasts strongly with other countries by being a landlocked country.

Paraguay was defeated in the bloody Paraguayan war, which Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay participated, which in a way produced an important decline in its economy and its quality of life for a long time, though in the last few years this has been changing partly due to the political and macro-economical stability the country has experienced since the early 2000s.


Population density of the Southern Cone by first-level national administrative divisions. Population/km2
View of the Southern Cone at night, where there are population densities in the accumulation of light from cities.
Major agglomerations of the Southern Cone

The population of Argentina, Chile and Uruguay is 40, 16.8 and 3.6 million respectively. Buenos Aires is the largest metropolitan area at 13.1 million and Santiago, Chile has 6.4 million. Uruguay's capital and largest city, Montevideo, has 1.8 million, and it receives many visitors on ferry boats across the Río de la Plata from Buenos Aires, 50 km (31 mi) away.

By contrast, the Patagonia region of southern Chile and Argentina is very sparsely populated, with a population density of less than two people per square kilometer.


Ethnic map of Argentina and Uruguay.

The population of the Southern Cone has been strongly influenced by waves of immigration from Europe in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. People of European descent, make up 88% of total population of Uruguay, 85% of the total population of Argentina and 65% of the total population of Chile.[23][24][25][26] In São Paulo, Paraná, Rio Grande do Sul, and Santa Catarina self-identified white people are 61.3%; 70.0%; 82.3%; and 86.8% of the population respectively, with people of Italian,Polish and German ancestry predominating.[27][28][29]

Italians started to emigrate to the Southern Cone as early as the second half of the 17th century,[30] and it became a mass phenomenon between 1880 and 1920 when Italy was facing social and economic disturbances.[31] As a consequence of mass Italian immigration, the Southern Cone has the largest Italian diaspora in the world,[28] with people of Italian descent being the majority in many places, with the highest percentage being in Argentina (62.5% Italian),[32] and in the southern Brazilian state of Santa Catarina (60% Italian).[33] Among all Italians who immigrated to Brazil, 70% went to the State of São Paulo. In consequence, the State of São Paulo has more people with Italian ancestry than any region of Italy itself,[34] with São Paulo city being the most populous city with Italian ancestry in the world,[35] of the 10 million inhabitants of São Paulo city, 60% (6 million people) have full or partial Italian ancestry (the largest city of Italy is Rome, with 2.5 million inhabitants).[36][37] Small towns, such as Nova Veneza, have as much as 95% of their population of Italian descent.[38]

The region also has a large German diaspora (second largest after the United States),[39] with People of German descent being 25% of the population of Rio Grande do Sul and 35% of the population of Santa Catarina.[40][41]

Mestizos make up 15.8% of the population and are a majority in Paraguay. Native Americans make up 3% of the population, most live in Chile. Mulattoes (people of European and African ancestry) mostly in Uruguay (0.2%), and Asians (1.0%), mostly in Argentina, the remaining 1.2%.[42]

There is also a strong Arab presence in the Southern Cone, with people of full or at least partial Arab ancestry being 5% of the population of Uruguay and Chile, 9.8% of the population of Brazil, and 11% of the population of Argentina.[43][44][45][46] Brazil has the largest number of Arabs outside the Middle East, with 20 million Brazilians being descendants of Arabs,[45][47] while the Palestinian community in Chile is considered the largest outside the Arab world.[48]

Genetic and historical roots


Since interethnic marriages are widespread in Latin America, complex ethnic classifications emerged, including more than a dozen of "racial" categories created in 18th century Hispanic America, with notorious examples being castizo, morisco and cambujo. In Brazil, about 190 "racial" categories were detected by the Census of 1976.[49]

Blacks made up 25% of the population of Buenos Aires in 1810, 1822 and 1838. In 1887, the government decided to cease asking Argentine citizens about their race. According to Laura López, it was a way to "hide" the Black population, not only from the Census, but also from public opinion.[50][51] Chile does not ask its citizens about race, but a study from the University of Chile concluded that Whites make 60% of the Chilean population,[52] while the CIA World Factbook described 88.4% of the population as white and mestizo.[53]

A study conducted on 218 individuals in 2010 by the Argentine geneticist Daniel Corach, has established that the genetic map of Argentina is composed of 79% different European ethnicities (mainly Spanish and Italian ethnicities), 18% of different indigenous ethnicities, and 4.3% of African ethnic groups, in which 63.6% of the tested group had at least one ancestor who was Indigenous.[54][55] An autosomal DNA study from 2009 found the composition of the Argentine population to be 78.5% European, 17.3% Amerindian, and 4.2% Sub-Saharan African (SSA).[54]

A DNA study from 2009, published in the American Journal of Human Biology, showed the genetical composition of Uruguay to be mainly European, but with Native American (which varies from 1% to 20% in different parts of the country) and also SSA (7% to 15% in different parts of the country).[56]

An autosomal DNA study from 2014 found the Chilean population to be 44.34% (± 3.9%) Native American, 51.85% (± 5.44%) European and 3.81% (± 0.45%) African.[57]

In the case of Chile,"The use of mitochondrial DNA and Y chromosome" test results show the following: The European component is predominant (91.0%, versus 9.0% of the aboriginal one) in the Chilean upper class,[58] the middle classes, 66.8%-62.3% European component[58][59] and 37.7%-33.2 of mixed aboriginal[58][60] and lower classes at 55–52.9% European component[58][59] and 47.1%-45% mix of Aboriginal.[58][59]

Similar to the rest of Latin America, the genetic ancestry of the population of the Southern Cone reflects the history of the continent: the Iberian colonizers were mostly men who arrived without women. In consequence, they had children with the local Indigenous or enslaved African women. European immigration to this part of the world in the late 19th and early 20th centuries (massive in Argentina, Uruguay, and south and southeastern Brazil, modest in the rest of Brazil, Chile and Paraguay)[24][61][62] brought more European and Middle Eastern components to the local population – mainly Spaniards in Chile, Italians and Spaniards in Argentina and Uruguay, Italians in São Paulo, and Italians, Germans and Poles in southern Brazil.[63]

Education and standards of living


The other conspicuous characteristic of the Southern Cone is its relatively high standard of living and quality of life. Chile's, Argentina's, and Uruguay's HDIs — (0.860), (0.849) and (0.830) — are the highest in Latin America, similar to countries in Eastern Europe, such as Slovakia, Hungary or Romania.[64] Uruguay, where illiteracy technically does not exist, reaches the same level in this area, even considering that it faces restrictions to its industrial and economic growth. The Southern Cone is the most prosperous macro-region in Latin America. It has a high life expectancy, and access to health care and education.[65] From an economic and liberal point of view the region has been praised for its significant participation in the global markets, and its "emerging economy" profile.[65] More troubling are high levels of income inequality.[66]

Summary of socio-economic performance indicators for Latin American countries
Country GDP per
(2015 estimates)


Gini index
(2014 estimates)

Failed States Index[71]
Lack of Corruption[72]
Economic Freedom
Brazil 15,518 52.7 0.759 (H) 52.9 64.8 43 56.6 2.073 7.12
Central America[note 5] 10,502 49.7 0.678 (M) 51.0 68.8 37 62.2 2.058 6.45
Mexico 18,714 48.1 0.774 (H) 55.0 71.1 35 66.4 2.500 6.91
South America[note 6] 11,955 47.5 0.715 (H) 50.3 76.7 31 55.0 2.233 6.01
Southern Cone[note 7] 22,493 45.2 0.820 (VH) 57.7 42.4 60 1.648 7.60 7.84



During the second half of 20th century, these countries were in some periods ruled by right-wing juntas, military nationalistic dictatorships. Around the 1970s, these regimes collaborated in Plan Cóndor against leftist opposition, including urban guerrillas.[74] However, by the early 1980s Argentina and Uruguay restored their democracies; Chile followed suit in 1990.



Timeline of presidents

See also


Explanatory notes

  1. ^ a b c d e Sometimes included.
  2. ^ Sometimes included. A disputed territory administered by the United Kingdom, claimed by Argentina as the Islas Malvinas.
  3. ^ Sometimes included. A disputed territory administered by the United Kingdom, claimed by Argentina.
  4. ^ Spanish and Guaraní are co-official in Paraguay, with the vast majority of the population being bilingual.
  5. ^ Excluding Belize.
  6. ^ Excluding the ABC countries, the Falkland Islands, The Guianas, and Uruguay.
  7. ^ Excluding the Falkland Islands, Paraguay, São Paulo State, and South Brazil.


  1. ^ This North American density figure is based on a total land area of 4,944,081 sq km
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